Aspire to Greatness: The Great Australian Bakery
What’s an Aussie with a successful pool company do for fun? Open a restaurant, of course! That’s exactly what owner Laurence Lindahl did with The Great Australian Bakery. During a visit to his homeland to visit his ailing father, he found comfort in his culture and especially the food. He felt a strong reconnection to his motherland and wanted to find a way to share that with the people of Arizona.
During that same visit, he met an Australian baker, Daniel Rose, and they bonded over sharing the culture and love for homeland’s cuisine here. He felt a calling and got started on creating The Great Australian Bakery once he returned. He took the whole process seriously. He brought Chef Rose to the States to help perfect the recipes. Once that was accomplished, Chef Rose helped train the kitchen staff on the proper preparations. The key is the pastry. They imported a machine to help make it in the meticulous manner that is key in the dishes. The layering of dough and butter make for extremely flaky pastry. You can taste the difference and quality in every one of their products.
Chef Melanie Camat Yanga runs the kitchen now and she admits that learning the recipes and dishes was a definite process. She prepared herself by watching Australian cooking shows and doing research into key dishes. She paid close attention to the instruction that Chef Rose provided and has embraced the menu. Everything is made from scratch. Everything. You’ll find the specialty items prepared and waiting for you in the custom cold and warm display cases. This allows for a view of the items on the menu, especially those that you might not be familiar with. If you’re not sure about an item, the entire restaurant staff is familiar with every aspect of the menu and are extremely helpful.
Laurence is also a dining room fixture, mingling with customers and answering questions. More than anything he is checking in with guests to make sure that they have enjoyed their meal. Add to that, he is a hoot. He’s one of those characters that you feel good about meeting. He has a spunky spirit and is a self-proclaimed “cowboy”, not one to easily follow the rules. He’d rather make his own. I think that’s why I took to him so easily. I follow the same anti-rule book!
He shared with me that prior to opening the restaurant he has come across about 10 Aussie’s. That’s in the more than 10 years that he has been in Arizona. Since opening, he has come across more than 500 Aussies, Kiwis and Poms. Most of those have become repeat customers, because of the great selection of items and their connection to Australia.
The menu items that you’ll find here are the exact items that you will find throughout Australia. Most items are intended to be handheld, which is likely why I gave Laurence a little chuckle as we sat together and I maneuvered my knife and fork. These hand-held pastries are akin to the New Yorker walking down the street with a hot dog or slice of pizza.
The Great Australian Bakery: Savory Items
Their signature items are their Minced Meat Pie and their Sausage Roll. Both are full of flavor, with buttery and crisp pastry. The spices used in the minced beef are what make the pie. The sausage roll was exquisite. There was a spicy element to the sausage that provided a slight kick that I wasn’t expecting. The whole roll was moist with the perfect balance of flavors. You can also add, as advised by Laurence, their tomato sauce. Not to be confused with ketchup, this signature blend is full of flavor with a slight tang. They have a slightly spicy version that Chef Mel came up with and it worked perfectly with the minced meat pie. I preferred the plain tomato sauce with the sausage roll so that the natural spice shone through.
The Great Australian Bakery: Sweet Items
They also have a variety of indigenous desserts to choose from. Their apple turnovers reminded me of my Grandmother’s homemade apple pie. It is a perfect combination of warm baked apples, spices, and crisp crust. Their apricot turnover had a creamy texture and was delightful. I made the mistake of trying to cut my Matchstick with knife and fork, which ended up squishing out the cream and made me a little sad. Hindsight, I suppose. Don’t make my mistake. Pick up the matchstick and take a big bite. The tart raspberries blended well with the whipped cream and the pastry itself, again, was incredibly crisp.
Make sure you give their Lamington a try. It is made up of a chocolate sponge cake and topped with desiccated coconut. You can order it plain or split and filled cream and jam, the way that Laurence suggests. Another popular dessert is their Vanilla Slice. While I did not try this one, it was beautifully presented.
The Great Australian Bakery: Catering
The restaurant also has a catering side. There are party trays that include minced beef and steak & cheese pies, sausage rolls and beef and veggie pasties. Their dessert trays include a variety of Lamingtons, apple turnovers, vanilla slices and custard tarts. You can also custom order any tray to fit your needs.
Laurence has submitted the restaurant’s liquor license application and already has the space next door ready to be added as a bar area. He plans to serve Australian beer and wines as well as have some Australian condiments and delicacies for sale. He’s eager to get this part of the restaurant going and hopes to celebrate by premiering the Aussie Grand Final in September along with the Melbourne Cup.
They currently have a happy hour (that will definitely intensify once they have that liquor license) from 5pm until 7pm where you can try tastes of the menu for 1/2 price. To show his appreciation to the work and service of first responders and military, those individuals receive an automatic 10% off their orders. Always.
I am anticipating taking my whole family soon so that they can try out the great items here. I plan on us all leaving full and happy and coming back time and again. Fingers crossed that Laurence will be there each time.
The goal at The Great Australian Bakery is simple, according to Laurence. “I want you to walk out the same way you came in, enjoying everything that you had. I want to introduce the community to the culture and the food.” This is a great fast-casual spot in Old Town and I encourage you to try them out. Don’t forget to take a selfie with the koalas in the eucalyptus tree in the dining room.
The Great Australian Bakery is at 7217 E. Main Street in Scottsdale. You can call 480.941.3801 for more information or catering orders. They are open from 7am until 7pm.
**We would never try to trick you! So you should know that I was invited to The Great Australian Bakery to meet with the owner and try some signature items. All the tastes, comments, and recommendations are made by me. Although I received my meal for free, my words and opinions are my own and cannot be influenced by a free meal. Check out our Disclosure Policy for more information. **
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© Taryn Jeffries 2016